Hopedale Massachusetts, 1890

Hopedale is a small farming and manufacturing town in the southeastern part of Worcester County, 34 miles from Boston on the Milford Branch of the New York and New England Railroad. Its length northwest and southeast is about four and a half miles, and its width about one and a fourth miles. The assessed area is 3,088 acres. Milford bounds it on the northeast, Bellingham on the southeast, Mendon on the south and southwest, and Upton on the northwest.

On each side of the town is a range of hills, between which flows Mill River in a southeast direction, to the Blackstone. From these hills are many delightful views. At the southeast the Charles River forms a part of the boundary between this town and Milford. There is also in this section a fine pond, forming a reservoir for several factories. The underlying rock is mostly gneiss. The land is moist, somewhat rocky, but productive. The manufacture of boots and shoes is the largest industry; and there are others of straw and palm-leaf, furniture, leather, and metallic goods; by which many small fortunes have been made. This town had in 1888, 251 legal voters and 203 dwelling-houses. The valuation was $882,408, with a tax-rate of $13 on $1,000. The villages are Hopedale and South Milford, both post-offices, and the latter having a railroad station. There is a new and excellent town-hall, three stories in height, constructed of Milford granite heavily trimmed with brownstone. The architecture is severely ornate, of composite order, and very effective. Besides town offices, it contains a public library and three halls : the largest of these halls will seat 350 persons. The cost, including land, was $60,000. It contains a bust of Hon. George Draper, a successful manufacturer and a generous benefactor of the town.

Hopedale was incorporated on April 7, 1886; having been set off from Milford, of which its territory forms the southwest part. The town had its formative impulse, and took its name, from the village of Hopedale, situated near the centre, which was the location of the "Hopedale Community." This association was formed in the town of Milford in 1841, and located at Hopedale in 1842. It was projected as an attempt to "exemplify all the cardinal principles of practical Christianity, both individually and socially." It took the material form of a joint-stock and united industrial association. Gradually it fell back into the usual ways of New England communities; and in 1856 its organization was changed, so that what remained of it became a practical Christian religious society, with certain guaranties. A part of the members naturally dispersed in the course of a few years, and new-comers were in their places. Business prospered, however, under the skilful management of the firms and corporations which succeeded the Community and its remaining members became blended with a complex population. The result was that in 1867 the "Hopedale Parish" was formed; and, by an amicable arrangement, this inherited from the former organization a nice little church edifice and grounds, worth some $8,000; the Sunday-school library of 500 volumes, with its sustaining fund of $800; the Community cemetery; and the residuary leavings of smaller value. It is an independent Congregational parish, though associated by membership and religious fellowship with "The Worcester Conference of Congregational [Unitarian] and other Christian Societies." It has never had over 120 voting members. The new parish called to the pastoral office the Rev. Adin Ballou, the senior pastor of the "Community," and a resident since 1842. There are a considerable number of Roman Catholics and Spiritualists in the town; and there have been various other organizations, semi-religious in character. There is little bigotry or superstition; and the inhabitants of the town at large have long had a good reputation for morality.

Nason and Varney's Gazetteer, 1890, pp.383-385